Characterizing tumor microenvironment biomarkers

Investigating impact on cancer progression

The discovery and development of effective cancer immunotherapy requires a better understanding of the tumor microenvironment. The makeup of a tumor’s microenvironment during different stages of cancer progression depends on the physiology, the immune system, and the associated cellular and molecular factors. Dissecting the stages of tumorigenesis, from onset through cellular transformation and metastasis, requires a comprehensive knowledge of the tumor microenvironment. Thermo Fisher Scientific offers a broad portfolio of antibodies and immunoassays to measure specific biomarkers that can help researchers understand this process.

The cellular microenvironment influences a tumor’s biosignature

Investigators continue their efforts in elucidating how a tumor’s surroundings—the microenvironment where a tumor resides within the body— influences its cellular and biochemical makeup. Knowledge of these complex dynamics is the basis for identifying a tumor’s unique biosignature, and consequently its nature. A tumor’s biosignature is the result of its relationship with the organ, tissue, or cells with which it interacts, as well as growth factors and chemokines/cytokines that affect signaling cascades. For instance, there is mounting evidence that tissue infiltrating inflammatory cells and their chemical mediators contribute to deleterious alterations in DNA, RNA, proteins, lipids, and metabolites, leading to dysregulation of normal cellular processes. Consequently, cell cycle, apoptosis, and intercellular and intracellular signaling cascades are affected, often resulting in tumor formation. It is thus crucial to identify biomarkers that will pinpoint key features of a tumor that are responsible for tumorigenesis.

Cancer with its many forms and unique molecular traits remains difficult to investigate without the appropriate tools. Protein identification and analysis is a key component of these efforts, and Thermo Fisher Scientific has developed a comprehensive portfolio of products and solutions for cancer researchers. We offer a wide selection of primary antibodies for multiple applications, including ELISA and multiplex immunoassays for measuring secreted proteins, western blotting for phosphoprotein and detection of other posttranslational modifications, fluorescence imaging and high-content analysis for protein localization and visualization within cells, tumors and tissue, and flow cytometry for cell identification and immunophenotyping.

Application spotlight: Proteins associated with leukocytes of the tumor microenvironment

Cytokines are low–molecular weight proteins that mediate communication between cells in the tumor microenvironment. Immune cells (e.g., macrophages and lymphocytes) and stromal cells (e.g., fibroblasts and endothelial cells) release cytokines to affect cell differentiation, growth, survival, migration, and immune cell activation. Cytokines may have a wide impact on cancer cells ranging from anti-tumorigenesis to the various stages of tumorigenesis. Early responses of inflammation as well as later changes such as cellular transformation and malignancy are a result of balancing pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, cytokine receptor expression patterns, and the cellular make-up of the tumor microenvironment. Table 1 below highlights key features of cytokines, chemokines, and growth factors commonly associated with propagation of tumor-associated inflammation.

Leukocytes of the tumor microenvironment

Table 1. Selected proteins associated with leukocytes of the tumor microenvironment.

Source Protein Antibody
Cat. No.
Cat. No.
ProQuantum Kit Cat. No. Functions linking inflammation to cancer
TAM TGF-β1 MA1-116 BMS249-4   Promote tumor growth in later stages of carcinogenesis by creating an immunotolerant environment
MDSC, TAM IL-6 700480 KAC1261 A35573 Promote tumor growth
MDSC, TAM IL-8 710256 KAC1301 A35575 Enhance proliferation, migration, and angiogenesis
MDSC, TAM, Tregs IL-10 710170 KAC1321   Anti-inflammatory; downregulate expression of Th1 cytokines and costimulatory molecules on macrophages
Th17 cells IL-17 MA1069 EHIL17B   Associated with angiogenesis and poor prognosis
Th17 cells IL-21 710141 BMS2043   Associated with tumor development
Th17 cells IL-22 701031 BMS2047   Promote differentiation of Th17 cells
Macrophages, monocytes, neutrophils, T cells, NK cells TNF-α 710288 KHC3011 A35601 Induce DNA damage and inhibit DNA repair; promote tumor growth; induce angiogenic factors
Macrophages, T cells, mast cells, NK cells, endothelial cells, and fibroblasts GM-CSF 701136 KHC2011 A428915 Activate macrophages of macrophages
Endothelial cells, fibroblasts M-CSF PA1-20182 EHCSF1   Controls production, differentiation, and function
We offer additional immuno-oncology–related antibodies, ELISA kits, and ProQuantum kits.

Additional resources for tumor microenvironment-related topics

Protein and cell analysis products for immuno-oncology research

Reagents and assays


Instruments for analysis